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Play therapy technique : an examination of a Childrens Aid Society experimental project for disturbed children, 1948 to 1951 Finlayson, Helen M.

Abstract

This study has been made to evaluate the benefits of play therapy in the treatment of disturbed children, and specifically to consider the particular technique used at the Childrens Aid Society in Vancouver. The term "treatment" is a nebulous one in this age of multiple treatment methods; however, the therapy technique, as illustrated in this thesis, lends itself to comparatively concise evaluation. The play therapy project was initiated at the Childrens Aid Society in July of 1948, under the auspices of the Junior League of Vancouver. For the first few months, only one child received treatment, but the project has broadened to include a total of thirteen children who have received treatment and are receiving treatment at the present time. These children are carefully selected with regard to the degree of their disturbance rather than whether they are wards or non-wards. Such a selection of the children is necessary because the therapy project is limited and the resources must be used to the greatest advantage. The thesis first describes the technical aspects of the play therapy technique in general. A second chapter then sets forth the practical issues involved. Detailed cases are next examined of children receiving treatment for (a) conduct disorders, (b) habit disorders, and (c) neurotic traits. For each of these groupings, three cases were selected to exemplify the characteristics commonly associated with these disorders. The first of these cases illustrates the therapy given to a child who showed a marked conduct disorder; the second case showed a child with a habit disorder; and the third case described a child with neurotic traits. With each of these cases, the therapy is described through actual therapy excerpts, pointing out at the same time the meaning of the movement taking place. Additionally, for each of these three chapters, two further cases were used, as an illustration of instances in which therapy might be beneficial, and also to bring out related casework concepts in the environmental situation. An attempt is made to group the cases in such a way that similar traits were shown in those children receiving treatment and those who are not. It is found that the therapy at the Childrens Aid Society is, for the most part, conducted on a 'play-interviewing' basis, and the conclusion from this fact is that there is a real need for specially trained therapists so that treatment may be given on a more intensive level. In addition, the case records used in the study seem to indicate a lack of adequate casework with parents and foster parents, as well as a need for better placement policies with these children. Accordingly, an attempt is made in this study to show both the strengths and weaknesses of a project which is the first of its kind in the city. The positive values are very clear where treatment can be given consistently. At the same time it emphasizes the great need for treatment resources towards which such a method can only offer a partial contribution.

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